assortment of Christmas fare
by Freda Bruce Lockhart
The BBC's TV programme, "Our Strangled Cities(Nov. 27) and the various items commenting on the report on the Independent network were not as satisfactory because Professor Buchanan appeared with too many other notables and experts, was often interrupted when speaking and the public. consequently, did not get a clear and complete picture of the Professor's findings.
The Third Programme, however, permitted him to say what he wanted to say in his own way and at his own pace. Thus the picture was clear and it revealed also a warm, human personality whose diffidence and unemphatic, tentative way of speaking was surprising in a Civil Servant.
Half the fun of Ionesco's "The Bald Prima Donna" (BBC. Nov. 27) was in learning from the -Radio Times" that it was inspired by a book on how to speak English. The French dramatist's farce would have been much funnier, however, had the four or five joke "lines" been drastically shortened.
"Sticks" (BBC, Dec. I) is the kind of play of which TV is starved; naturally, since its premise is against the grain of most TV drama. In this play William Emms, its author. tries to show how a tough. likeable and perfectly normal young man. a telegraphist on a British frigate. reacts strongly against the idea of using violence towards any other human being. WITH Christmas approaching, the film companies begin to set forth their most attractive wares. By a stranger coincidence, these include the three best movies 1. remember seeing in the same week for many months. It seems no accident, however, which brings out of this assortment a clash and cleavage of philosophies.
America sends It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World ("Tel", Coliseum). a long, loud, uproarious spell of sardonic, savage slapstick on the unchanging world of original sin. concupiscence and greed. From Britain comes a miniature musical What a Crazy World ("A", Studio One), which turns into a tender, touching tribute to the mixed-up kids of today and their muchmaligned parents. Lastly from our very Mediterranean cradle. from Italy itself, comes a great broad Sicilian saga of the old world at its noblest. and most gallantly nostalgic, abdicating gracefully. handing over inevitably to the new generation. Luchino Visconti's great picture from The Leopard (-U.' Carlton), Prince leampedusa's novel of his ancestral Sicily. is. of course, in internatiewe achievement. Not has ing read the Lampedusa novel, I was struck at my first sight of the film by a variety of salient factors. The Leopard is the best integrated of the international coproductions I have seen.
Burt Lancaster's performance as the old Prince is magnificent. as fine in its very different kind as his Birdman of Alcatraz, a performance of extraordinary depth and dignity for a youngish American.
The part of his wife is given a performance of classical brilliance seldom seen today. Together they portray the truth of the kind of marriage so cruelly but brilliantly satirised in Divorce—Italian Style. Claudia Cardinale invigorates her natural beauty with the nearvulgar robustness needed for the bailiff's daughter to bring new blood to the ancient family. All other detailed imeressions testify to the merriding mastery of Visconti.
The Italians almost alone succeed (sometimes) in humanising film spectacle and the tremendously long, half-hour ballroom sequence is a glorious piece of nostalgic bravura. Finally, the film left me wondering how, much better or not The Leopard was than Gone With the Wind, so close in feeling to its reverence of a passing elegance. Also. though it may seem a small matter. it is a rare treat to find a film of this st-ature with a "U" certificate. It's it Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World lasts almost as long as The Leopard, which needed to be both long and slow to tell its story. Stanley Kramer's mad, sick comedy does riot exactly feel long.
But its noise, repetitions and inherent brutality make it exhausting It has two of three peaks. For the rest it begins with a more hectic chase than silent cliffhangers used to end with, and hardly pauses till the end.
It is funny and I must admit—to director Kramer's credit—it never quite flags. But T think it would have been funnier an hour shorter. if only one establishment had been wrecked instead of three, if Miss Merman had only been manhandled once.
But is is worth sitting through the whole three hours (with intermission) and being infected with mass hysteria for the sake of one tremendous speech by TerryThomas as an English explorer in deepest U.S. who gets involved by giving a lift, The new cinerama (R) process does away with those vertical lines but does not, to my senses, achieve the same sense of physical participation in its acrobatics.
It's a Mad (4) World features a lot of names well-known but of secondary importance Among guests and also-rans may he spotted dear Zasu Pitts and Joe E. Brown the big-mouthed comedian. Vella( a Crazy Noted stars a number of unfamiliar young faces whose owners may well become important by "show biz" standards. The Joe Brown here is a far-haired English boy (very slightly reminiscent of Tommy Steele). The boy he plays is presented at an awkward age where his loyalty to a boy (Marty Wilde) most of whose family pop in and out of prison worries his own parents (Avis Bunnage and Harry C:rbett), his girl-friend (Susan Maughan) and perhaps himself. To begin with. I thought this picture of British potential juvenile delinquents was going to he a very far-off imitation of West Side Story. But as the uneasy courtship proceeds between the she ,cleterm nedl y non-committal youth. and the slightly ON er-lca ina but never abject girl. recognised the best of all comedy situations, one rooted in reality and treated with compassion. Both young Mr. Brown and young Miss Maughan are delightful. Marty Wilde never makes one feel he is already a star. The elder generation speak for all parents perplexed by the children to whom they try to give "what they never had themselves".
The tunes are pIentiful and pleasant. the lyrics topical and
brieht. Almeether shall be surprised if this modest horne-made musical doesn't prove a smash hit for sheer niceness.